guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Exploring in the rain

Fun, if somewhat wet night at Guides this week, as we took the Seniors girls out around the local streets to come up with a bit of a treasure hunt for a different patrol to follow next week.

It was dark and cold and raining, but that just made it all a bit more exciting and interesting, and you get a different perspective on an area you’ve seen many times.

It was quite nice just to be out with one patrol (other leaders took other patrols, yay for lots of adults!), and just being able to chat a bit to them in a relaxed way without having to keep an eye on 20+ kids at once! Nice too for the group to have some time to bond a little bit, and relaxed, quiet walking around made it a really low pressure evening. The purpose of the activity (which will be completed next week) was to observe the local area, and draw a map or create map-like instructions for another to follow – both elements of the World Explore A Challenge badge!

Meanwhile, the Juniors managed to squeeze 15 kids into the kitchen (lucky they’re little!) to make and decorate cupcakes to look like cats and dogs for their Pets badge (any cooking can be made relevant to the badge du jour with a bit of thinking!). Unfortunately the picture examples were forgotten, but luckily not needed as the super creative kids all just figured it out brilliantly themselves, yay 🙂

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Celebrating!

Two weeks of celebrating the diversity of guiding experiences – ranging from very solemn and traditional through to chaotic and modern.

The first week was a lovely ceremony night, awarding a Junior BP Award (I think only the 8th of our unit??), and having two girls make their promise, and one renew. It was a lovely happy sort of an evening, and while I think there were flashes of boredom from a couple of the girls, they were all beautifully behaved and seemed to rise to the challenge of putting on something of a performance for the various parents and friends who came along to be part of the evening.

Included in the ceremony was a very slow and solemn singing of the first verse of ‘This Little Guiding Light’, which was lovely. I wonder if that is something that should be part of our promise ceremonies more generally… hmmm.

The second week was a visit to the local ‘Showtime’ (similar to ‘Gangshow’), a production by the local guides and scouts. Not my favourite activity of the year (amateur dramatics and musicals not really being my cup of tea), but it was exciting for the girls attending to get to stay up late, and nice for one of our older girls who was in the show to know that we were in the audience!

This week: the leaders are going on strike… stay tuned to learn more!

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Service, supermarkets, and speedy strolling!

A fun, if somewhat not-quite-to-plan evening at Guides this week, as we took the entire group to the local supermarket!

The Church where our hall is based has an annual food drive, which for the past two or three years I’ve been thinking we should assist with as part of our broader service to community… but each year it sneaks up on me and by the time I realise “oh yeah the food drive” its over and done with, agggh!

BUT NOT THIS YEAR! I finally, finally managed to actually have the idea in time for our term planning, and even managed to find and get in touch with the organiser to confirm our participation and signal our willingness to be involved in future! Yay me and remembering in time!

So rather than just collect from the families (although we did put out a note encouraging donations from families too, and got quite a few bags worth of goodies), we decided to take the girls to the local supermarket, and have them work with a defined budget in small groups to purchase suitable items.

So the whole group – travel cards in hand! – walked up to the local tramstop, caught the tram into the main part of town, and we then let them loose on the supermarket (after reading the behaviour riot act of course!). We had the girls split up into their patrols, and then into half again, with the PL and PS each heading up a half-patrol. Each of these half patrols was given $5, and told to do their level best to come in on budget.

In the end, two of the patrols were about 70 cents over budget, but the other came in between 5 cents and 60 cents under budget, so overall, we were pretty close on expenditure, and ended up putting about a dollar worth of change in the little charity collection.

The girls all seemed to really get a kick out of being allowed to wander the supermarket with only ‘light touch’ supervision (the leaders were wandering the aisles and keeping a general eye, but didn’t go around with the girls) and they seemed to enjoy the intellectual puzzle of figuring out how to get the best value for their money… I do hope the food drive recipients like canned corn though – when we looked over what the various groups had bought, it featured unusually heavily in the purchases! Must have been a sale on that I missed!

Unfortunately, our best laid plans came unstuck as we went to catch the tram home, only to have the tram take off just as the first of our group got to the tramstop. We thought the driver would have seen us and waited while the slower girls caught up, but nope, just took off. Usually trams along that route are every 10 minutes or so, but when we checked our handy little tramtracker apps, the next one wasn’t for 25 minutes! agggh! And the meeting was meant to finish with parents picking up in 25 minutes!

So, quick change of plans, we decided to walk back to the hall! 2.3kms of luckily quite straight and flat and well-lit footpath… and as it turned out, we made it back to the hall only five minutes after our scheduled closing time, and without the tram passing us so it was definitely the right call rather than trying to keep 30+ kids safe and occupied waiting for the tram next to a main road!

Next week: candle-y stuff for littlies, knotting stuff for middlies, marshmallows for biggies!

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Kitchen experimenting

A fun night last night as I helped out with trying to re-establish our Rangers unit with our high school aged girls. We had our upper seniors, plus one ranger… no girls from Sister Unit… so… hmm. I guess we’ll see whether this re-establishment works!!

Regardless, the group had fun, doing a masterchef mystery box challenge – RangersLeader and I brought along the ‘pantry’ items (milk, eggs, flour, sugar, spaghetti, a tin of tomatoes, salt and pepper… a couple of other bits and pieces), and the girls each brought two things for the ‘mystery’ component.

After much fussing about, they ended up making a pasta dish with tomatoes, tuna, carrots and “waaaay too much” mixed herbs, some biscuity-pancake-y messes, and some pudding-ish thing. Not sure that any of it would be regarded as gourmet… or even properly edible, but they had fun! The opportunity to just “play” in the kitchen doesn’t happen very often, so I think they enjoyed the novelty of that if nothing else… and the pleasure of just having the older girls together 🙂

Meanwhile, the main unit went on a penny hike- splitting into Juniors and Seniors so the size of the group wasn’t too overwhelming – luckily we have enough leaders now to make this sort of thing possible, even with me out of the mix playing with rangers! The Juniors girls were all excited about just being allowed out at night (walking in the dark and cold is not really a standard thing for that age in our area!), while the Seniors had fun entirely regressing in age as they found The Other Playground (not to be confused with The Park we often go to!) and mucked about on the equipment in the dark without feeling “too old” for it as they weren’t surrounded by shouting six year olds 🙂

In recruitment related news- Newbie Prospective Senior returned and took forms, and two Newbie Prospective Juniors came along and seemed super keen, asking all about uniform etc! If all that comes through, we will officially be full in Seniors/Uppers, and have only one place in Juniors (after some discussion we’ve decided to cap both groups at 18 for ratio and wrangling purposes)… which given we have 2 kids due to move up to Seniors next term may prove tricky… hmm.

Still, a nice problem to have!!

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At the park

A reasonably easy evening this week, as we took the girls to the local park.

We were joined by Sister Unit, which meant that we had 40 kids (even with a few from both units away… we’ve both grown a lot recently!), which meant that the noise level was higher than usual, and the chaos level was DEFINATELY higher than usual!

We started by getting the girls into groups of 2-3, and blindfolding one member of each group, before walking the two blocks or so to the park. The girls found this hilarious and fascinating, and it was a good activity to even up the girls- some of the 12 year olds struggled just as much as the 6 year olds!

Once at the park, we had the girls mix up into different pairs, and then hunt for a long list (18 items I think) of ‘shapes in nature’ – the shapes included “corkscrew” “letter C” “cone” “cube”. The girls found bark, clouds, leaves, vines… and one group even made the letter c by forming it with their hands, reasoning that they too are part of nature 🙂

We then went to a little wooded area, and played “my friend the tree” which had them again in partners or threes – one girl in each partnership was blindfolded, ‘dizzied up’, and then led to a tree. They had to touch it, smell it, and try to remember it, before being dizzied up again and led away, then have the blindfold taken off. They then had to try and identify their tree! It worked really well, and was again an activity which seemed to be enjoyed by the girls at both ends of the age spectrum.

We finished up with a bit of a play on the playground (there would have been a mutiny if not!), before walking back. It wasn’t the most action-packed evening, but it was nice to get outside, stretch our legs, and give the girls time to chat and muck about a bit!

Next week, badge work, which will, *in theory* be directed by the girls, rather than the leaders. We shall see!

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Paying it forward

As regular readers will know, I have often spoken about the necessity of maintaining a reasonable life/guiding balance, and not letting the guide leaders natural tendency to say “of course!” overwhelm me.

Well, lately I have failed miserably at that, with this last month involving Guiding commitments on three weekends in a row (Sunday, then Saturday and Sunday, then Sunday again…), plus a Thursday night out with a group of seniors, plus running my unit, and Rangers (although only one meeting so far), and helping out at Sister Unit for the last three weeks! Luckily these extra sessions all ended up being with other crazy overcommitted leaders, so at least I was in good company!

So how did I end up in this Guides overload pickle?

Well, firstly, a bunch of the Senior Guides wanted to try going to a local competitive outdoor camp. *In theory* the preparation for this camp shouldn’t be too onerous, as girls should gradually learn the skills required over their years in Guiding, and only need a bit of time to refine their menus and theme.

*In reality* (at least the reality of my quite-urban-not-very-outdoorsy-unit) the girls required a crash course in old-school camp skills, including cooking A Proper Meal over the campfire, putting up and taking down tents (without the leaders closely directing things!), making wood-and-string gadgets, first aid, camp hygiene… et cetera!!

So the journey started last term with a pre-meeting for potentially interested guides and parents to let them know what they might be in for, followed by a short meeting to confirm who would be attending, elect the patrol leader and second, choose the patrol name, and agree to a basic schedule of training.

This term, we then met at a local pizza/pasta place for planning – the girls had to agree as a group what they would cook (being sure to manage the food desires of each of them with the required menu balance), and the broader menu and thematic elements – and try and negotiate what “bits” they would all organise! It went quite well, and I think it was easier to do an extra night than to try and tack it onto a usual Guides night, especially as the group was a mix of girls from my unit and Sister Unit. Next up, we had two full days of training – the first day was campfire cooking, followed by tents, and a bit of “campsite planning”, which involved the CUTEST little set of campsite/dolls furniture which SisterUnitLeader had found through the magic of ebay. The second day involved cooking on campstoves, gadget making, and drilling in first aid and food/campsite hygiene and safe practices. Both days were long and exhausting, but the girls did seem to learn a lot, and hey, given the kids had to learn to do it all independently, there were also substantial periods where myself, SisterUnitLeader and RangersLeader were all able to sit in camp chairs in the sunshine and merely supervise, which if you’re giving up a Sunday, isn’t such a bad deal! The camp they were preparing for was this weekend, and apparently they did very well, woohoo!

I also managed to get myself talked into helping out for a few hours on two separate Saturdays this month for district shenanigans – once at a sausage sizzle at a local hardware store, and once at a farmers market where we had a (vastly unsuccessful!) promotional stall. Phew!

Annnnd of course I’ve also signed up to help at SisterUnit for a few weeks, as poor SisterUnitLeader doesn’t really have any backup at the moment. I’m just doing the “assistant leader” type role of turning up and being an extra pair of hands and eyes, but I know how much of a difference that makes compared to having to be THE responsible adult. I’m in constant awe of SisterUnitLeader, she’s managed to keep her wee little unit going through thick and thin (even managing to keep the unit going while she was working several hundred kilometres away!!), and is always happy to pitch in and help our unit whenever needed, so a bit of share and share about is only fair!

Finally, had my last day of crazy over commitment to weekend Guiding yesterday, teaming up with AParentHelper, YoungCoLeader and RangersLeader to take a group of kids from my unit and sister unit to Scienceworks, which was actually really fun. We went to the planetarium, and explored lots of exhibits – the ones on town construction and science fiction/space were particularly intriguing. The girls also loved the sports exhibit, which had them testing their balance, strength, speed etc.

So, that should be pretty much it for weekend bits for me for a while. And shortly this little blog will take a wee hiatus too, as I’m soon to be having a break from Guides, even a bit longer than the usual summer pause, as I’ll be on “maternity leave” from Guides (although *really* dedicated leaders tell me there is no such thing!). All going well, I think I’ve got three weeks of Guides left that I’ve committed to, but I guess we’ll see if mother nature agrees with those plans!! 🙂

And that is probably the other reason I’ve been madly saying yes to all requests – paying the karma forward a little so I don’t feel guilty about taking a step back for a while 🙂

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Faith and service: exploring the serious side of Guiding

A fantastic day out yesterday, helping around 12 Guides to give service and explore their understanding of faith, and explore the serious side of Guiding in a fun way.

We started the day with an hour and a half of helping out at National Tree Day in a local park, digging holes (with a cool pogo-stick-esq digger) and planting some native grasses along a river bed. The girls all got really into the activity, and luckily the weather was on our side, all bright blue skies which always makes things easier!

The girls really worked well together, with groups of three working on the digging (the digger really needed two to hold steady and one to jump), and being a bit creative in their problem solving around how to get the stakes into the ground (thump it with a stray rock being vastly more efficient than other possibly less injury-prone strategies) (no fingers were harmed in the thumping of stakes!).

After our time planting, we had a mini-change of the guard, with three girls heading off, and two others joining us for the second part of the day, which was exploring places of faith.

Following much wrangling of public transport (train stations are ALWAYS further on foot than they appear on a map!) (especially with 8 year olds busy gossiping rather than moving quick smart!) we made it up to the inner northern suburb of Coburg, where we visited a local mosque, and were given a tour and a brief overview of Islam by some of the mosque’s volunteers, who were all so lovely to the girls – just delighted to show off their mosque and de-mystify their faith. The girls were all facinated by the beautifully decorated Qurans, and were decidedly taken by the lovely dense carpet (many patterns were drawn on the thick pile while listening!). But of course, the thing that really caught their eye? The fact that the mosque had a table tennis table set up in the community room! Heh.

We then had a short break for lunch at  Lebanese restaurant, where the girls feasted on pita bread, dips, salads, and meat. Even FussyEaterGuide managed to find things she enjoyed (pita, hummous, chicken), and for all her fussy eater status, she did have a tiny try of everything, and even agreed that tabouli was “not tooooo bad”. Success! A few more years in Guides and she may even branch out into non-white-food options!

After lunch, we headed back to the city to visit a synagogue. In what turned out to be a stroke of luck, we missed the opening hours of the synagogue by five minutes, but the door was still open. So I went in and apologised profusely for our tardiness and wondered if the girls might have a quick two minute look and then head off? Well, it turned out the Rabbi was still around, and was DELIGHTED to give the girls a private tour and talk (and even show off blowing the new year’s horn), so rather than be in a big group with other people for the open day, they had all their questions answered and tailored attention! Super lucky!

Finally, we had half an hour to check out Melbourne’s Catholic cathedral, which despite being only a five minute walk from my work I’d never been inside – well, it was beautiful, all soaring vaults and stained glass, just gorgeous.

So all in all, we had a great day, giving the girls a wider understanding of faiths in their city, and hopefully giving them a chance to see that there are people of good will and friendliness from many backgrounds. If only we’d had time to fit in a visits to Buddhist and Hindu temples as well to really broaden the experience… perhaps that can be on the agenda for next year!

Overall, I think the day helped our girls meet their Australian Girl Guides Promise to “serve my community and Australia” and “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”… and tick off a couple of clauses in a few badges as well!

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Catching up

Well, this has been a poor neglected little blog these last few weeks. Suffice to say life has been a bit full of late with both work and personal life a little busy, and guiding and the blog has had to take a back seat!

So, lets catch up the last few weeks.

Firstly, we had a ‘codetastic’ sleepover with 14 kids from our unit, and 7 from sister unit. It was awful cold and rainy day which made things a bit of a challenge – the intended plan of having each of four patrols light fires to cook their afternoon tea didn’t happen! But we did manage to get one fire going, although it took so long (it really had rained hard, and the wood was soaked through!), that we ended up having the ‘apple crisps’ as dessert instead of afternoon tea!

The wide game for the sleepover was unfortunately not as successful as previous ones, mainly as the slightly more free-form concept of ‘do the activities in any order’ seemed to confuse the girls – they couldn’t keep up with what they were up to. I think if I did that kind of strategy again, I would add a checklist for them to tick off as they went, so they could keep track. The activities themselves seemed quite successful – they included making a shelter, following compass instructions, decoding some fairly complicated codes, and doing puzzles.

Overall, it was reasonably successful (despite the rain), and the girls all seemed to have fun – it was also great to see the girls from both our unit and sister unit blending together so well – by the end, they’d all meshed in together 🙂 Also realised that one of the girls from Sister Unit is old enough for Rangers (although wants to wait until next year), so that is exciting.

Back to normal Guides – last week I (and three lovely mums who responded to our pleas for extra adults!) took the Senior Guides to the local supermarket on the tram to purchase ingredients for the final night’s cooking. It was part of the Lifeskills badge, with the girls having planned the recipes the week before (including budgeting), and then travelling via public transport to get the groceries, and then this week cooking the food.

The girls were all pretty good, although I suspect a bit more cheeky than they would usually be if their mums were not around!!

Finally, this week (final night of term), the Junior Guides had a ‘bathroom’ night as part of their Homes badge, which included a towel turban relay (quite hilarious!), and a bathroom themed version of The Chocolate Game, which had the girls dressing up in a bathrobe and shower cap when they rolled a six.

The Seniors, meanwhile, did their planned cooking – chocolate balls for one patrol, and chocolate cake for the other (bit of a chocolate theme for the last night of term!). Unfortunately for the chocolate cake girls, the oven was broken – the pilot light was out, and we could not get it restarted! So we attempted a bit of alternative cooking methodology, doing some in cupcake cases in the microwave (which looked like it worked, but actually resulted in burnt cupcakes), and some in a slice tray floating in a larger tray full of water, which we boiled on the stove, bain-marie style. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and it didn’t quite cook, but I think given an extra 30 minutes or so it would have worked, perhaps with a bit of foil over the top to seal in the steam and cook from above as well as below. It was rather fun though, trying to figure out emergency cooking alternatives!

Finally to close out the term we had a Promise ceremony for two girls who joined us towards the end of first term, and a Promise renewal for three girls moving up to Senior Guides, which is always lovely. One of the girls moving up has been with us for more than three years in Juniors, and has been a really fabulous an enthusiastic Guide right from the start – it will be fantastic to have her in Seniors, although it does make me feel old!

And finally finally we had Rangers – four of the five girls came along for ‘Christmas in June’ which was meant to be both crafts and cooking but ended up all cooking as they futzed about and ran out of time! Still, the ginger cookies (which had to be emergency ‘baked’ on the bbq due to the same oven issues the Senior Guides had) turned out edible (although much more like ‘ginger crumbles’ than ‘ginger cookies’), and the non-alcoholic mulled wine was a great success. They all had fun, and seemed keen to be back next term, so all is well.

Non-alcoholic mulled wine:

1 litre orange juice

1 bottle sparkling grape juice

2 cinnamon sticks

5-10 cloves

1 cup of sugar

peel of one orange

flesh of one orange cut finely

 

Put all ingredients in a large pot or kettle, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and serve into glasses or mugs. Enjoy!

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IKEA’ing it up

Just a quick recap of this week’s adventures – an evening spent with the rangers group, doing a scavenger hunt at our local ikea!

Super easy night for the leaders – hand over the instructions, and let the girls go! They had to find a bunch of things, and come up with a couple of ideas – like “something to use as a mascot for rangers” – which if they’d really got into something I would have bought, but given they did a half hearted choosing of a smiling cloud stuffed toy with the half-hearted explanation of “oh it seemed… happy?”, I figured we wouldn’t waste our money at this point!

More successful was “find the quirkiest object” (winner was an odd-shaped trivet), find at least 10 things with product names starting with ‘R’, and find 3 things that were exactly 180cms wide/tall/long (all Besta in the end… to my chagrin, I failed to include “must be from different series” in the instructions, but I suppose part of the fun is finding the loopholes!). They also found the three objects that I’d given product names for, although it came out after a couple of giggles and guilty looks that one of them had whipped out her phone to help them identify what they were looking for!

All in all, a fun night out, and quite nice to have an evening just with the ‘old’ girls 🙂

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Everything is more exciting in the dark!

torch

First night of term last night! Yay!

Its a funny week here in Australia, we’re just after Easter (and the 4 day weekend that entails!), and this week is also ANZAC Day (and so a lovely 3 day weekend!) – so only Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are ‘working days’. We umm’d and ahh’d about whether to return to Guides this week or not – school has gone back for some schools, but not for others, and we genuinely had no idea how many kids to expect!

In the end, it was worth it – we had the vast majority of girls show up, and most of them (or their parents!) had even read the email requesting they rug up and bring a torch! We also had a SUPER CONFIDENT new six year old join us (shall we spell that HANDFULL?), which was rather nice. She seemed to have a fun night, so I suspect we’ll see her next week 🙂

To go on our hike, we split up the Juniors and Seniors – sending AwesomeCoLeader with the Seniors (only 8 of them), while and I, NewCoLeader and AmericanCoLeader went with the mass of Juniors. I gather the Seniors had fun, certainly the Juniors did! We ranged all over the local area (which has a convienient number of cross streets for this sort of thing), and they all got a turn or two at flipping the coin to determine our direction. We even managed to find the ‘back way’ to the local park (quite by accident!), and so they got to have five minutes running about on the playground in the dark. Pretty much everything is more fun in the dark!

It was interesting chatting to some of the younger ones – I asked how often had they been out at night, and several of them said NEVER, and a couple said “only at Christmas to look at the decorations” – so I guess our simple little walk locally gave a lot of them a surprising new experience.

Oh, we also restructured our Juniors patrols, moving to three patrols. This, and Old Junior moving up to Seniors last term has meant we’ve been able to promote a few more girls into PL and PS roles, and they are all VERY chuffed. Its understood by the girls that not everyone will get to be a PL or PS (although if you stick around long enough your chances are good!), so they do tend to regard it as quite an honour, which is lovely.

So, all in all, a fun, exciting, easy and cheap night, rounded out by handing out the term program and invite to our next sleepover which had the girls all excited! Next week – cooking for the littlies, exploring careers through skits for the biggies 🙂

 

(Oooh, I nearly forgot: cutest overheard discussion last night –
“Tell your sister [now 6 and old enough] that Guides is REALLY BORING so she doesn’t come”
“Yeah!”
“Even though its THE BEST THING EVER”
“Not EVER”
“Yeah!”
“Nahh, Luna Park is the BEST THING. But Guides is the second best!”)

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